May 23, 2018- Quote of the day

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” ~Chinese Proverb

Often I tend to judge myself based on who I think I should be or ask myself if the “me” that can be stressed by everyday life is who I truly am. When this proverb popped up for me it was a great reminder that my stress does not define me unless I chose it to be so. I can work towards shifting my thoughts to reduce stress/tension, then I can reconnect with self. Working with my attention, focus and inner chatter can assist with this shift. Today I will be mindful of where my attention is and what I am telling myself about my experiences and work towards a more relaxed and serene approach.

May 21st, 2018- Quote of the Day

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about it.”

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

This rings very true for me. If I stop the thoughts after the initial feeling and refocus I am okay. It is only when I allow myself to think about a situation and how upset I am that it has not gone the way I needed/wanted it to go that I become anxious, depressed or down.  By working with thoughts we can shift our mood.
I like the second quote as it helps to shift thoughts. I honestly believe that situations we find ourselves in always contain something for us to learn, shift or grow from. I start there and then move forward. At least in my best moments. ; )

Quote of the Day…

“The natural ups and downs of life can either generate personal growth or create personal fears. Which of these dominate is completely dependant on how we view change.” ~ Michael A. Singer

I am rereading The Untethered Soul, by Singer and am loving it all over again.  I have struggled with this concept, as I think we all do at times. In my worst moments I have considered changes, that do not follow “my plan”, a negative or I continually search for what I could have done differently, better or search for anything I should have avoided. In my best moments, I see change as a shift, growth or divine intervention. I search for gratitude and peace in what I might consider chaos or the unknown, knowing that there are ups/downs and constant change. Often it is a quiet mind, observation of thoughts and faith that keep me on a path to serenity.

The Power of Our Words…

Today I am reminded that my words are powerful.  I can be loving, caring and my words can be a catalyst for love, peace, joy and happiness.  Or, I can be upset, fearful, irritable and my words can be harsh and do harm.  Today I found myself overdone- in a frenzy of getting ready to go somewhere with the family.   It was hot, I was frustrated and just plain over it!  In the midst of all of it came a disagreement with my partner and, I hate to say it, I lost it.  I blamed and yelled.

Looking at it now I am remorseful and even right after I felt regret as we traveled in the car not speaking much, however justified I still felt I was.  😉  I can laugh as these arguments do happen in any relationship, but the result was toxic for half a day.  Was it necessary to shout?  Use harsh words?  Blame?  This brought me to think of mindfulness and the loss of spirituality in that moment.

The Buddhists call it “right speech” or “mindful speech”, Don Miguel Ruiz calls it “being impeccable with your word”, and I am sure there are others that have touched on this topic.  Oftentimes I have spoke with my clients about buttons that can get pressed that take us to that space where we are not being impeccable with our word.  The idea, to me, is to unhook those buttons.  But how???

In terms of mindful speech, I believe it is finding a way to pause and bring my thoughts and feelings into my awareness.  Then, I ask myself some questions about what I am about to say.  There are many quick inventories to choose from.  Here are a few…

From Buddhism and Thich Nhat Hanh~

1.  Speak truthfully

2.  Do not speak with a forked tongue, telling one person one thing and another something different.

3.  Do not speak cruelly- do not shout, slander, curse, encourage suffering or create hatred.

4.  Do not embellish or exaggerate.

Dennis Merritt Jones on “being impeccable with your word”

1.  Is it true? Do I know beyond a shadow of adoubt that what I am repeating is accurate and true, or is based on hearsay and assumptions that I or others have made without gathering all the facts from an impartial and reliable source?
2.  Whatwill I gain from repeating these words to others? Will what I am going to say be life affirming, productive and helpful to all involved and will the world be a better place because I uttered these words? If not, why would I want to repeat them?

3.  Is what I am about to say about another person something I would have the clarity, courage and commitment to say to their face, and, if so, why don’t I do so?

4.  Will what I am going to say be using the power of my word in the direction of truth and love?

Not sure where this one came from…

Any of these questions can bring some assistance to any situation.  Although, if you just try to bring it up to yourself in a stressed moment, I believe it would be impossible to utilize.  Daily reminders by reading something can keep it current.  The simpler the better.  The “think” one works for me, and reminds me of how my words can affect others.  My habits create the scenario where I resort to old coping skills that end up making me compromise my integrity.  I feel bad for the way I treated my partner, but even worse the way I disregarded myself by becoming someone I do not want to be.

“Before we speak ,or hit the forward and send button, it would do us well to pause and become witness to our thoughts before they become our word. I invite you to join me in using the power of your word in an intentional and conscious manner. Not just because speaking with integrity is the right thing to do, but because the world needs and deserves the absolute highest and best that we can bring to it.  When we gossip and spread rumors–when we speak less than impeccably about others–we are affirming to the universe that hears our every word that we feel separate and apart from the whole of life–we are declaring our own lack of wholeness. When we are not impeccable in our word we participate in creating pain and suffering forothers and that is not why we have come to earth.  What we think and say matters, so being impeccable with our word seems like a great place to start”  (Dennis Merritt Jones)

I know the power of intention, so this week I am going to intend to be impeccable with my word.  I know that my world will shift with this one simple idea.

Don Miguel Ruiz- The Four Agreements

Dennis Merritt Jones

The Power of Our Thoughts

Our thoughts and views are very powerful forces in how we feel and how we interact with others.  Honestly, I feel it is the foundation to whether or not we are able to feel happy or sad, depressed or angry.  How we perceive things and what we make of them equals how we feel.  Our history creates the template for dealing with current situations.  In psychology we look at how our childhood, relationships and life experiences may be influencing the present and the cognitive distortions we experience as a result.  Don Miguel Ruiz, who wrote the four agreements talks about the agreements we carry from our childhoods as a book of law.  Thich Nhat Hanh discusses the idea of “habit energy” and the sources of our suffering.

I feel it is very important for us to become observers of our thoughts and views.  Often it is hard to do this.  I think the best way to become this observer is to try to quiet your mind and see what pops up.  Just observe/listen to the thoughts in your head, your inner chatter.   You can write it down or just observe it.  Is what you are giving time to for good.  Thich Nhat Hahn talks about a garden and what seeds we water.   Are the seeds we are watering growing positive thoughts and feelings or taking us in direction of obsessive thought, negativity and decreasing our self-esteem?

Perception= Deception  This concept is a huge one for me.  Often I am considering some situation or relationship with someone and I see it in a certain way.  I ruminate over it, feel sick to my stomach, maybe even lose sleep over this; only to find out that what I thought to be true was actually false.   I liken it to looking up at the clouds.  If many people look at a cloud they may have many different interpretations of what they see in that cloud, based on what is on their mind, their day, their favorite animals, etc…  Same for all the rest of the interpretations we make.

“We may praise, blame, condemn or complain depending on our perception, but our perceptions are made of our afflictions cravings, anger, ignorance, possible wrong views we hold and any prejudices we have,” (Thich Nhat Hanh).

Some questions to ask yourself to help with clear, healthy thinking…

“Are you sure? – Have you checked it out and are absolutely sure it is true, based on fact?  Or are you making assumptions? Reality checking.

“If you are not sure, is this a pattern of perception and thought that is habitual and unhealthy? – If so, don’t judge, just know it and try to release it.  It is often important for us to understand where our patterns come from so we can have compassion for ourselves and to allow for us to accurately see whether or not is healthy today.

“What are you doing right now?” – Bring yourself to present moment by paying attention to your current environment and what you doing.  Mindfulness.

“Is there anything I can do about this right now?” -If not write down or schedule a way to take care of the situation and then try the present moment idea.

You can transform your thoughts by replacing them with a more positive ones and by not developing unhealthy thoughts.   For example if we have an initial thought that someone does not like us or is mad at us.  If we have nothing to support that thought, and we are “not sure”, we have a choice to check it out with that person, or if we are not in good space we can “develop” that thought into a billion other thoughts such as- Why is this person mad at me?  Maybe I should have done “x” differently, or I don’t like that person either, etc…  We can even ruminate about our interpretations to the point we drive ourselves crazy.  At any time we can choose not to water the developing thought through reality checking, positive thoughts or distractions, including trying to be in the present moment and utilizing mindfulness exercises.  You can state to yourself that you are losing present moment by continuing to give your time to something you cannot do anything about.  Often that helps to spark you to try to focus on something different.  Honestly, we often spend too much time ruminating on something that we have no control over or cannot do anything about in our present moment.  Let it go!  Move out of fear based thinking into faith.   For more on faith or fear read…

I think it is important to observe ourselves and then water the seeds in our gardens that nurture and support us.  Before we can do that we have to know ourselves well- being present with all that is within us both good along with our old habits and ideas that no longer support or serve us.   When we become aware and take corrective actions we can create new pathways of thought that change how we perceive things and we can handle our thoughts in a more healthy way.

What the ?!*?!@! happened to my serenity

Sometimes or often, I find myself out of sorts. Searching perhaps for the bit of serenity I had yesterday that seemed to make all the sense in the world, at that time. However, at the moment I am scrappling with bills or some bit of news or something I said or did that I am not proud of and that serenity has disappeared without a trace. For me, the only way back is to come to a basic idea of being either in “faith” or “fear”.

This tiny little idea, not my own of course, but one I have borrowed from many sources, can make all the difference. If I am not feeling serene or at peace, chances are that I have picked up “fear” and have dropped the “faith” I have in the universe. Once I have clarified what I am in fear of, the work begins.

This may sound simplistic, but it works for me. I fear economic insecurity, losing those I love, losing my job, or my home. It is then that I can work on shifting my thinking and my energy to that of “faith”. Creating or manifesting what it is that I want, instead of what I do not want.

My psychology background and my dabblings with the laws of attraction tell me that what I focus on what will be what I create or manifest for myself. Being stuck in fear, all my thoughts are on what I don’t want and can create a situation that can look like evidence that my fears are valid. However, I know from experience that if I shift my “fears” into positive “faith-filled” thoughts or statements that doors open for opportunities and experiences that seem magical in nature.

I struggle with my thoughts. Thoughts connected to ego and material things that I believe define who I am. I lose sight of what is true and become connected to “who I am” in the sense of how others view and see me. My experiences become blurred by what others have to say about them and not the experience itself.

It is when I let go of all the fear, that faith and serenity reappear, instantaneously.

Those crazy voices in my head…

So, I was listening to Deepak Chopra today and he spoke of the idea of “no problem without a spiritual solution” and “awareness without boundaries”.   Tough topics, but so essential in living a peaceful, happy, serene life.

He talked of a dark room to illustrate levels of awareness…

 Starting out-  dark room with one candle lit and the idea that you could not see everything and there would be MANY obstacles, and you would be bumping into them

Expanded awareness- you might get a small flashlight and then you would look around and see that all the “so called obstacles” have a specific purpose (a sofa, a table, etc…) and he likened this to “expanded awareness”.  

Awareness without boundaries- then the room transforms with glass walls and the sun shining down on you, and the universe is your playground

Well, I have to say, he had me until the glass walled room and playground.  Then I seemed stuck.  I believe that I often touch that room in meditation, or a spiritual talk, or retreat, and lose it so quickly the moment I become frustrated or angry, or too busy.  I feel overdone and overwhelmed by my life, my obstacles.   Strangely, I think it has to do with the voices in my head.

No, I am not talking about schizophrenia or multiple personalities.  I am talking about the dialogue that plays out constantly.  The one that tells me what I need to get done, that the car in front of me is going to slow, that I didn’t say the right thing or wear the right outfit.  It talks ALLLLLLLLL the time.  I do not need to ask it anything, it already gives me its view.  Honestly, if it were manifested into a human being hanging out with me, I would have ditched it long ago.

Michael Singer, author, calls it “the roommate”.  I call it the crazy voice.  It talks to its self and then answers.  It has assumptions about everything!  Why someone did not call me back, why something happened, why someone made a face at me, etc…  Honestly, it is wrong MOST of the time and has little to no basis in reality.  Mostly fear based.  I speak of this to my clients in terms of distorted thinking (cognitive behavioral therapy).  It has been called the “Gremlin” in some coaching circles.  The list could go on and on as to what people have referenced it as, but what I did not do until recently is step back and observe it.  Truly observe it.

I am not talking about therapy like thought logs and challenging thoughts and beliefs.  I am talking about just the observation to REALLY get how bad it is.  You really have to decide that the voice/voices aren’t useful to make a change.  You have to truly GET that the voice is crazy, and it is taking you down.

OK.  When observing it on and off for a whole day I was shocked.  I have been making decisions and having interactions based on this voice quite often as it elicits fear and then I work from an emotion based space.  It is a vicious cycle of starting out serene, some “problem” arising, instantly that crazy voice chimes in to make sense of it, emotions begin to stir and reactions occur, then the voice begins to voice doubt the decisions that were made and more emotions follow.  If I am lucky I notice my emotions and take time to calm down, breathe, and start over.  If not my whole day is crazy and I go to bed exhausted and done.

I would not tolerate a friend telling me the things the crazy voice says…  honestly, listen to yours and see what I mean.  It will interrupt any quiet moment you have if you let it.  I am pretty sure that this is why I cannot imagine being in a place where the sun is shining and the universe is my playground.

So, what to do?

I am starting by truly observing and distancing myself from the crazy voices and realizing… that if “I” am listening, then the voices are not “me”.  I can distance from it and move to a place where there are always solutions, or as Depak would say, always “spiritual solutions”.   The voices are based off of fear and past experiences, childhood issues and messages I received.  Becoming an observer, helps to see the issue without emotional attachment.  It becomes simple.

Depak Chopra uses the idea of STOP, S- stop whatever you are doing, T- take 3 deep breaths, O-observe, P- proceed with kindness, love and joy.

For today, I am beginning to quiet my mind (no voices), and realize that life is a lot simpler, and in that space I find a bit of serenity.

I love this poem by Patricia Lynn Reilly…

Imagine a Woman II

Imagine a woman who is interested in her own life.

A woman who embraces her life as teacher, healer, and challenge. Who is grateful for the ordinary moments of beauty and grace.

Imagine a woman who participates in her own life.

A woman who meets each challenge with creativity.

Who takes action on her own behalf with clarity and strength.

Imagine a woman who has crafted a fully-formed solitude.

A woman who is available to herself.

Who chooses friends and lovers with the capacity to respect her solitude.

Imagine a woman who acknowledges the full range of human emotion.

A woman who expresses her feelings clearly and directly.

Who allows them to pass through her as naturally as the breath.

Imagine a woman who tells the truth.

A woman who trusts her experience of the world and expresses it.

Who refuses to defer to the perceptions, thoughts, and responses of others.

Imagine a woman who follows her creative impulses.

A woman who produces original creations.

Who refuses to color inside someone else’s lines.

Imagine a woman who has relinquished the desire for intellectual approval.

A woman who makes a powerful statement with every action she takes.

Who asserts to herself the right to reorder the world.

Imagine a woman who has grown in knowledge and love of herself.

A woman who has vowed faithfulness to her own life.

Who remains loyal to herself. Regardless.

Imagine yourself as this woman.